Explorations in Business - Part 2 of ?

When I was first talking to Abbey and John about doing something crazy like starting a business based on meditation coaching I think I needed some permission, some social validation. That was a start. When I talked to Bryan I connected with someone who started with my skepticism and was then able to see a good path forward. Now, I have to start defining what that path is and how to walk it.

There is such a ridiculous amount of work to do. It's a bit overwhelming. That's why John and Abbey recommended that I go with something that I'm truly interested in in that first meeting I had with them, because otherwise you just burnout anyway.

I bought MeditateWithJeff.com a couple of days ago. Actually, I bought it in 2017 when I first had success with managing my chronic pain with meditation. I didn't do anything with it, I didn't even have a plan, so I let it expire. Then, a couple of days ago I bought it again through domains.google.com. I looked at a few different options and decided that I'm going to build the site on WordPress. I looked at a few options for hosting and decided on SiteGround.com, which was a good decision. I'll get back to the website in a few minutes. First I want to go over some of the things that I've been thinking about for the last couple of weeks.

The first thing I need to do is start getting some feedback from people. That's what my site is all about right now. Product/market fit is the first step. Many people think of it as two things: market research and product development. But, really the two need to go together. If you make something that no one wants then you're wasting your time. If you find something that people want that you can't or don't want to make, then you're also wasting time.

After product/market fit the main focus will transition to distribution, i.e. sales, marketing, and advertising. That means that I need to be doing product/market fit and thinking about distribution.

Over the last couple of weeks I've talked to a few people about this idea. I have a problem, it's weird to explain. "Yeah man, you just feel into your pain, and then, like, the feeling of pain changes man, because, like, your brain is rewired man." It sounds like some hippie stuff. I'm going to have to get better at presenting it and I think that will prove a challenge because it is a weird concept. It's like trying to describe a sensation to someone that hasn't experienced it.

I could focus on the opioid crisis, although I'm not sure that I will. I think that a good way to present part of this is that there are two basic ways to treat pain: you can either move away from it or toward it. That's true for all things. Moving away from pain, such as ignoring it, often works. If the pain is small and/or if the pain will only be there until the injury heals. But, if the pain is a lot and it's going to stick around because you can't really fix the underlying cause, then ignoring it just doesn't work.

If moving away from the pain won't work then maybe moving towards it will. By voluntarily confronting the pain your brain rewires itself to experience it in a new way, it restructures your perception. You still feel the pain, but as a signal rather than something that takes over your awareness.

I think that I might try to use the idea of the phenomenal field to try to explain it, but I might not. I have to think about that more. Maybe a good metaphor would work, although I'm not sure about what that would be at this point. I was thinking about personifying pain too, turning it into a personality. And, actually, as your neuron chains become coated in a thick myelin sheath they can't help but fire, and that is a lot like having a little personality operating on its own in your head. That's how addiction works, and that applies to pain too. That's why brains can get wired to provide phantom pain signals sometimes.

Obviously I'll use my idea of Jeff's Meditation Matrix to describe the four different types of meditation, and how they are useful for different things. (My dad recently told me that my grandfather considered private prayer a form of meditation. It's interesting that I came to the same conclusion so many years later.)

I'll use my story about getting sick in Africa and then having complications with the spinal deformities as my credibility until I start to get other testimonials that I can use. The anecdotal evidence is the best evidence in this situation.

The ancient idea of the shaman usually includes that they are a wounded healer. I just think that's interesting.

Pain is a signal. I've written about that in my philosophy article "The Most Important Question in Philosophy". I think that's good to emphasize. Pain is good, useful, and important. Most of the time it helps us. It is a signal about damage and threat. Things we need to pay attention to and handle. Usually, the worse the pain, the more urgent the problem. It's good to keep those things in mind too rather than demonizing pain.

I also don't want to forget to emphasize that you should always be working on solving the underlying problems too.

Number of attempts is a measurable metric. I'm not sure if that will be useful, but it might. Accumulated time might as well. I don't use these for my own meditation, but my personality metrics are outside of the norm.

I've been looking into some scientific research. I didn't need to before because I was just trying to find what worked for me. Now, people might want to hear someone other than me say it works. And, the research is there to some extent. The medical community seems to be taking ancient meditation techniques from thousands of years ago and just renaming them when they study them. For instance, mindfulness interoceptive exposure task, or MIET. (Exposure therapy is the idea of voluntarily confronting problems, so it's a good analogy.)

I think a good way to present my timeline is to say that after I had the answer in practice, then I went looking for why.

I need to learn to present a structured story around this. It's a lot of stuff over a number of years, so that's not an easy thing to simplify down.

It can go something like: the misadventure in Africa, long treatment in the US, found neck deformities, wasn't a stranger to pain before with shoulder injuries and concussions, my meditation story about already having trained for a year with an Ishaya monk and that didn't work for pain, then the ten day silent Vipassana retreat, my making of Jeff's Meditation Matrix, and then seeking a career change and going to FounderCo. Something like that is a good structure.

To a certain extent I did work on reinventing the wheel, but that's how wheels get better.

I'll focus on individuals first. Once I have some successes then I'll try to expand with a corporate program and insurance deals.

I'm thinking I might need to form a private health organization to protect myself legally. I think that's basically a contract. I'm debating how to structure pricing, but I need to make enough of a margin to be able to afford to advertise, or the business will just stall out right away.

I'm thinking 500 dollars for the first month. That includes the first month membership, the lifetime private health membership, and three private one-on-one onboarding sessions. I believe it will be more effective if I have private sessions at the beginning to help people get started. That takes a lot of time, but I think it might improve the success rate a lot.

The failure rate might be high. I'm asking people in pain to pay attention to their pain. At first this is worse, much worse. But, on the other side it's better. Many people will decide that they don't want to go over the mountain to get to the other side. I'll have to iterate the process to improve my numbers there.

I've been thinking of having membership be 100 dollars per month. I'll have daily sessions set up that are group conferences where you can join in and go through a session with me. For the monthly fee you can join as many or as few of them as you want. My father pointed out that there are businesses advertising that they don't have a monthly fee. So maybe people are tired of that model. Logistically it's just so much easier on my end though, as opposed to charging for whatever sessions they join.

I need to start thinking about the marketing message too. I think the before after bridge is a good one, i.e. "Here's what it was like before my experience, here's what it is like after, this is what you can do to cross the same bridge." Problem, promise, proof is another good format. Challenge, solution, invitation sounds better, I think. I have to address the major objections: not enough time, not enough money, and it won't work for me. We'll see how well I can do with those.

Another good copywriting formula is: who it's for, problem, why the current thing they're doing won't solve it, how I discovered what does work, and how to get the same solution. I think I like that idea best.

I have to plan how I'm going to run the calls. The group sessions will especially need a good structure that people can be used to. I'm thinking of something like this: welcome new and old, a tiny version of my story, why we do this, what works, what doesn't, how we do this, awareness games, meditation, good experience during session, non-satisfactory experience during session, good experience during session, questions and answers. I think that structure will work well. Probably a similar structure for the individual sessions.

I need a good statement of what I do. Over the last week or so I've told a few people that I'm doing this now, that felt odd. I've been thinking that something like this would be best: I help people with chronic pain change their perception of pain through meditation. Something like that.

I'm going to run into statistics questions and I can handle those with the case versus class ideas. Who matters? The individual case is what matters. And even more than that, the individual phenomenal field.

I help people in chronic pain learn to perceive that pain in a new and more manageable way through meditation. That might be better.

I just built the website today. It's designed to capture information. Then I posted it in Klippel Feil Syndrome, pain, and meditation groups on Facebook. I don't think it really made sense to do the meditation groups, you have to focus on the people with the problem that you're solving. I've had some of the posts deleted for advertising in groups, I've had some likes, I've had some people start responding to my questions, which is awesome! Bonnie even said she hopes that I'm able to move forward with the project soon. Encouragement is always good.

Since I have the domain name through Google and I'm hosting my site through SiteGround I had to forward the DNS. It took half the day for the website to become functional, which isn't that bad. I wanted to put together something quick so I put up a tiny bit of my story, some pictures, I shot a video and put it on Youtube and linked it to the site, then I created some survey forms for people to answer questions. I checked to make sure the forms were working correctly before I started sharing the site.

This is I what I wrote to begin the page.

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In December of 2015 I had a misadventure in Africa. Six months later I had finally killed the bacteria, but I still wasn't getting better. A friend of mine that's a chiropractor took x-rays that revealed that I have had four major spinal deformities my entire life. It was a time-bomb just waiting to go off. The C1 vertebrae in my neck had slid into my brainstem causing damage that effected everything from my memory to my heart rate. It also caused severe pain throughout my nervous system. Through many trials and errors over a few years I've found many answers that work for improving my health. One of the most important ones is a way to rewire your brain so that you experience chronic pain as the simple signal it is rather than an all-encompassing, life crushing interference that it all too often becomes. I'm working on learning how to spread this skill by starting a company that coaches people through this process.

- - - - - - -

The pictures included one from in Africa, a few adventures before Africa, and a few after.

The video is 23 minutes long, which is a bit longer than I intended, although I didn't really have a plan when I shot it.

I let people write answers to these questions.

- - - - - - -

I will have some specific questions and then some areas where you can say anything that you think I've missed. You'll have to put something in each box. If it doesn't really apply or you've already answered it, you can just say that or put n/a.

Good feedback will help me to start this right.

How long have you been in pain?

What have you tried to manage the pain?

Have you found anything that has helped?

Have you tried meditation before?

Have you tried meditation for pain?

What type of meditation have you tried?

Has meditation helped you with anything?

Would you be willing to try meditation?

Does this seem reasonable? Three private sessions one-on-one to get you started, daily group sessions that you can join. The first month would be 500 dollars. Give me other ideas if you have them.

After the first month what sounds like the best option? One-hundred dollars per month and you can join as many group sessions as you want. Only twenty dollars per month, but it's five dollars for every session that you join. Or, something else. Let me know.

Last, but certainly not least, anything else. I need to know what you're interested in, why you're interested, how committed you are, etc. That's what I was trying to do with the previous questions, but add anything else that will be helpful here.

- - - - - - -

After I got everything done the darn pictures wouldn't load. I worked on that for entirely too long. Eventually I called SiteGround and now I'm glad I chose them, because they were really easy to contact and they were helpful. I had launched both Weebly and WordPress at the same time. I just wanted Weebly for this part to be fast and easy. I have the cheap version of Weebly so I had to use three survey forms instead of using one, but that's a small thing. SiteGround support just put the WordPress page to the side for now and everything was working in about 2 minutes on the phone with them.

Then, I included a contact form at the bottom for people to put their email addresses into so that I can inform them when I launch. Hopefully some people engage with it.

Here's what I wrote to share it on Facebook.

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In 2015 I took a trip to Africa. It didn't go well. That lead to me finding out I have spinal deformities. A vertebrae in my neck slid into my brainstem. Over the last few years I've explored and experimented with options. One of the things that I've had success with is changing the way I experience pain. Now, I'm working on making a program so that I can help others do the same. I'm looking for feedback right now. Take a look, I'll put the link as a comment. It's MeditateWithJeff(dot)com

- - - - - - -

That's a start at least. I have a FounderCo meeting tomorrow evening. I'm glad that this time I'll be able to say that I've made some progress.


You can find more of what I'm doing at http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com


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